2016-2017 Ninth Annual International Winter Layout Party

ppuinn Dec 29, 2016

  1. ppuinn

    ppuinn Staff Member

    Welcome to the 2016-2017 9th Annual International Winter Layout Party
    Since the first one in Spring 2002, the Layout Parties have traditionally been hosted in the Layout Design Forum.
    Why International? Trainboard has members from over 75 countries around the world, so the Layout Party draws its participants from throughout the international community.
    Why Winter? Threads for the 6 Layout Parties held in the Spring had 180 to 240 posts. The 2009 Winter thread had more than twice as many posts…so we decided to arrange future Layout Parties during the winter months.

    We know you're out there!
    Yeah, you… and you… and you with the potato chip hanging off your lip and the half-drunk beverage sitting beside you. We know you're not working on your layout as much as you hoped to.
    You may have ideas for a new project that you always wanted to try but never got around to. Or there is a stack of kits on your workbench you’ve been meaning to start. Or you have a partially completed project that has been neglected for far too long. Or you have an almost-finished project that just needs some final fine-tuning and attention to complete. Or you are already in the midst of a project and you want to participate in the Party to share your progress with everyone else.

    The purpose of the Layout Party is to offer recognition, encouragement, and support to all participants who are working on a layout project, and to provide inspiration to those following others’ progress in the thread. We hope to have a group of people who will post about the work completed on their layout at least once a week for 10 weeks. We will, of course, congratulate those who have worked on their layout, and encourage those who haven't.

    This year's Layout Party officially begins today (Wednesday, December 28, 2016) and will run for just over 10 weeks until Sunday, March 5, 2017.

    Rules for The 2016-2017 Ninth Annual International Winter Layout Party thread:

    1. In your first post, please include descriptions of:
    --your layout (brief),
    --the area of your layout that you intend to work on (“before” pictures, please…if available), and
    --a description of what you hope to accomplish in the 10 weeks of the Layout Party.

    2. At least once each week, post a brief description and/or pictures of your progress--or lack of progress--so far, and what you hope to accomplish in the next week. The object of the Layout Party is to have fun, so plan accordingly: set a reasonable goal...and feel free to revise your goal upward or downward as you go along, so you are having fun instead of feeling stressed.

    3. At the end of the Layout Party, post a description and/or picture(s) of your accomplishments.

    FWIW: Some observations and suggestions:

    • Life Happens. The idea here is for us to have some fun and act as an electronic support group so we can each get more done on our layouts.
    • Make a firm commitment to post at least once each week about progress on your layout project.
    • If you fall off the Layout Party Work Wagon, acknowledge it by reporting it honestly.
    • Then climb back on the Layout Party Work Wagon. Declaring exactly what you plan to work on during the next week will help you get back on the Layout Party Work Wagon.
    • When we have others coming over to see our layouts, we tend to get more done because we plan and prepare better, and then actually follow through so we have something to show our visitors and can garner some strokes for all our efforts. Posting in the Annual Layout Party works in much the same way: we plan, prepare, and follow through a little better when we know someone will be seeing our progress.
    • If you encounter difficulties on the layout project, remember that the other participants and all the Trainboard members following the Layout Party thread can be a resource for encouragement and problem-solving.
    • If you have any problems posting pics, let us know so we can do appropriate problem-solving.

    Many participants have enjoyed this format and have commented that they accomplished more work on their layout in the short time we ran a Layout Party thread than they had in long time. Many members posted pictures, asked questions, moaned about problems, and encouraged others who were working through their own frustrations. Check out these links to our past layout parties.

    2015-2016 Eighth Annual International Winter Layout Party

    2014-2015 Seventh Annual International Winter Layout Party

    2013-2014 Sixth Annual International Winter Layout Party

    2012-2013 Fourth Annual International Winter Layout Party (Really, it was the Fifth Annual)

    2011-2012 Third Annual International Winter Layout Party (Really, it was the Fourth Annual)

    2010-2011 Third Annual International Winter Layout Party

    2009-2010 Second Annual International Winter Layout Party

    2009 - First Annual International Winter Layout Party

    2008 - Spring Layout Party
    Sixth Annual International Spring Layout Party - TrainBoard.com

    2007 - Spring Layout Party
    Fifth Annual International Spring Layout Party - TrainBoard.com

    2005 – Spring Layout Party
    Door Knocker's Delight

    2004 – Spring Layout Party

    2003 – Spring Layout Party
    From Armchair to Benchwork

    2002 – Spring Layout party
    Lonely Heart's Club Band
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2017
  2. ppuinn

    ppuinn Staff Member

    Yeah, the spelling of 'Ninth' looked weird to me, too...but I looked it up.
  3. ppuinn

    ppuinn Staff Member

    Just like last year's Layout Party, I'll spend the first month of this year's Party focusing on preparations for an all-day open house/operating session planned for the last Saturday in January. I anticipate between 20 and 30 people stopping by between noon and midnight to run trains on my double-deck (24+ scale miles of mainline track) 1970s era Peoria and Pekin Union Railway in N-Scale, and my smaller HO switching layout roughly modeling M&StL's Bartlett Yard in 1960s Peoria Illinois.

    My goals for this year's Layout Party are derived from some lessons learned from the 3 open houses/op sessions I hosted last year:
    1. Despite adding more labels on the fascia and improving the maps and job descriptions operators had for each train they ran, operators still had difficulty navigating the layout, especially within the hidden tracks associated with 3 of the 4 helixes. So I have used the Stationary Decoders driving my turnouts to set up Routes to take specific trains through the problematic areas: 10 trains follow 8 different routes up the Peoria Helix, and then 10 other trains make the return trip back down; 4 trains travel 3 routes up and 3 routes down through the Bartonville Helix. This past week, I set up 8 different routes for 9 trains to follow through the Pekin Helix and nearby hidden tracks. My first goal for this year's Party is to finish adding some LEDs in the fascia and some dwarf signals to help operators travel over some fairly complicated trackwork in the Pekin area without misaligning any turnouts.
    2. I've set up control points throughout the layout. Operators must set their chosen route to get a green signal to proceed. Eventually, all routes will be set by a dispatcher, but for January's session, operators will have a multi-segment track warrant for their entire trip, that specifies what track they take in each block from origin to destination, and the proper route number to key into their throttles to set turnouts/signals from each of their control points. (Goal 2: These are currently in rough draft form--ugly, with lots of erasures and crossouts--but must be nicely printed in 4 weeks.)
    This pic shows a mock-up of the control point label for 5 of the 8 routes through Pekin. When finalized, LEDs will turn from red to green showing which route the operator has selected to follow through Pekin. The mock-up is temporarily taped over where there used to be a toggle switch controlling one set of turnouts through some hidden track (and where the hidden track LEDs still show which way the switches were thrown before I removed the toggle.) Goal 2A: In the next week or so, I hope to be able to run all 5 of the routes through Pekin that begin here and the other 3 Pekin routes that begin at another control point just a little off the right edge of the picture.
    3. I still have some tweaking to do on the linkages for three tortoises I added to facilitate routing (they had to be remotely located to fit around some L-girders, and linkages aren't yet as smooth, reliable as I'd like).
    4. After the Pekin routes and LEDs are working, I want to make some changes in the track configuration of the major yard so that the Yardmaster can work both ends of the yard from the wide aisle in the middle, instead of frequently getting in the way of operators entering and leaving the narrow aisles at either end of the yard.
    5. A tortoise needs to be added (to replace a ground throw) near the PPU bridge over the Illinois River, because the ground throw is too far for most operators to reach comfortably from the aisle.
    6. When showing my layout to visiting relatives over the holidays, I discovered 2 locomotives that have broken trucks needing replacement. I'd prefer getting repairs made rather than buying new locos, but my train budget got a nice Christmas infusion that makes the second option viable.

    In addition to the above goals, I will need to clean track, locos, and the layout (and train space, in general).
  4. GP30

    GP30 TrainBoard Member

    Last year's party was the first one I participated in for a significant amount. I built virtually all of my benchwork and installed all of it and even got some track laid.

    My goals for this party are significantly more tempered than last years, primarily because we now have a six month old in the house, so it is harder to sneak away at 6 am to work on the layout.

    1) Complete track work at Ravenswood engine shop.

    2) Intall turnouts and track for Union Foundry at Silverton.

    3) Connect feeders to buss and test helix.

    4) Resume track laying on upper level to stone arch bridge.

    5) Continue scenery work around westbound staging tunnel.

    6) Build Westbound staging.

    Sent from my LG-UK495 using Tapatalk
  5. Another ATSF Admirer

    Another ATSF Admirer TrainBoard Member

    I am so international, it is already tomorrow here. ;)
    I don't know what season I will model yet (does Arizona have seasons?), probably not winter. But I will invite myself to your party anyway.

    I started construction on the new Duck River Sub (ATSF, 1990-1995, somewhere near Arizona or New Mexico, N-scale 8'x13') in October and as of this morning it looks a little like:

    There are two main entrances to the layout room, the above is taken with the cars parked behind me and the layout will feature a nice scenic bridge in main view from there. From the side door, the first thing in sight will be the main yard in the foreground, with the helix against the wall to the right, thus:

    So, plan is nearly done (revision 09c), L-girders for the main deck are done, framing for the helix is mostly done.

    January to March plan

    Life and work will intrude, but I think I can find a little time to work on the layout.
    Goal the first (likely): Get track laid on the staging deck, build the sector plate yard lead mechanism. Success will include running a train out of staging, around the reverted loop and back into staging. Ideally I need the reverted loop "bullet-proof" before burying it under the helix.

    Goal the second (probably): Build the helix. five turns spiral to climb 10-14".

    Goal the third
    (a stretch): start on the main deck, sub-road-bed and backdrop first, I suppose; try to fit the tracks into the scene rather than trying to fit the scene around the tracks ;)

    Happy new years!
  6. bremner

    bremner Staff Member

    I want to add a parking lot, a chain link fence, some trees and have an area finished.

  7. Rocket Jones

    Rocket Jones TrainBoard Member

    Now that the holidays are past, I can get back to regular progress on my layouts. For the switching layout, I want to finish several partially completed structures. I've also done some ground cover, and want to finish the rest.
  8. nscalestation

    nscalestation TrainBoard Supporter

    OK, I'm in. This will be my first layout party, what a great way to start the new year.

    I am going to focus on about 10 feet of a layout that I've been working on now for 2 years. The layout is N scale and is ultimately going to be (hopefully) an around the room 20 x 10 feet with staging tracks on a lower level.

    The prototype for the layout is the paired SP / WP line across central Nevada with the primary era being between the early 1970's up to the time the UP gobbled up the WP in 1983.

    I have been building this layout section at a time with the idea that if we should ever move I would be able to disassemble it and re-use the sections on a new layout. I don't want it to look like a sectional layout so scenery is going to be blended and fascia boards hide any seams.

    Now the before photos with descriptions:

    This 3 ft section sits over my paint booth. It is a simple scene with both lines crossing the Humboldt River. I have got a start on the pair of bridges shown in the photo that is taped to the wall and on the basic scenery. I call this section the Gloconda section because that is the name of the location on the prototype.

    Here is the same area from another angle. The section beyond this one is called the Wesso section and already has track and basic scenery done. The two sections are not yet connected together and both are not yet anchored to the walls.

    This is a view of the Wesso section from the other end. This section is about 7 ft long and contains the double cross overs that are at the western end of the paired line. Fiberglass Reinforced Plastic (or FRP) panel has been attached the walls and is ready for installation of 24 feet of photographic backdrops that I recently received and I have already finished lighting and valance above these areas. I need to get at least 12 ft of the backdrop up before I can anchor the sections then things can get moving along with finished fascia, track, scenery, etc. on at least this 10 ft area of the layout.

    This last before photo shows the other end of the Wesso section where it meets the helix. This is another area that can be finished. The track from the helix ends just out of view to the right.

    So the goals for the next couple months are:
    1. Install photographic backdrop.
    2. Anchor sections to wall and each other.
    3. Install fascia to front of these sections.
    4. Finish river scenery on Gloconda section.
    5. Finish and install both bridges on Gloconda section.
    6. Install track on Gloconda section and finish track between sections.
    7. Install wiring and connect everything up to the Gloconda section.
    8. Be able to run a train from the yard all the way to Gloconda.

    I have been maintaining a blog on this layout so should be able to post regular updates here on the TB thread as well.

    Last edited: Jan 2, 2017
  9. maxairedale

    maxairedale TrainBoard Member

    On the links below I get the following
    Internal Server Error
    The server encountered an internal error or misconfiguration and was unable to complete your request.

    Please contact the server administrator, webmaster@trainboard.com and inform them of the time the error occurred, and anything you might have done that may have caused the error.

    More information about this error may be available in the server error log.

    Additionally, a 500 Internal Server Error error was encountered while trying to use an ErrorDocument to handle the request.

    I'm using Windows 7 and Firefox.

  10. ppuinn

    ppuinn Staff Member

    We know at least 2 people have received this same error message. If others are NOT getting the same Error Message that Gary and I are getting, please report this post (my post, not Gary's), so trouble-shooters can start ruling out particular causes. Gary, please check your TrainBoard private messages.
  11. ppuinn

    ppuinn Staff Member

    Made progress on my routes through Pekin.
    LEDs are now installed in the fascia: 5 at the Big 4 Jct control point, and 3 at the North Pekin control point. When operators select a route through Pekin, the selected route LED will turn green, and the non-selected turnouts will all remain red.
    Linkages to remotely positioned tortoises have been completed on 4 tortoises recently added in the Pekin area. All LEDs (to be used as trackside dwarf signals providing indication of turnout position) have been installed in the Pekin area.

    Holes have been drilled for the LEDs (dwarf signals) showing position of turnout points; and I still need to drill holes for the tortoises' actuator wires to come up through the deck and turnout throwbar.

    When the Darst block tortoises and LEDs are in, I'll probably start on a track reconfiguration in the East Peoria Yard...adding a cross-over and shifting the ladder tracks so there is a more convenient way to get cars from the 8 tracks at the back of the B End yard to the first 4 used tracks at the front of the A End Yard, and to lengthen the classification tracks at the back of the B End Yard. This reconfiguration will make it MUCH easier for the Yardmaster (and any assistant) to work the A and B End yards standing side by side near the middle of the layout, instead of causing congestion in the narrow aisles at either end of the Yard.
  12. GP30

    GP30 TrainBoard Member

    Well, I installed the first three turnouts at the locomotive shop. I wired the feeders to the buss, and unwired them twice looking for a short that wasn't in the area. Darndest thing was a temporary "jumper" wire on a lift out that was making contact with a steel slide lock on the said lift out. After wasting about 3 hours, a little bend in the jumper and everything was up and running again.

    I also painted the base coat color on the backdrop at Silverton (first station East of Ravenswood).

    And I started installation of the lead switch to Union Foundary at Silverton. I still need to place plywood base down for the foundry and lay the industry track. The photo above is exactly on location of where the foundry will be.
  13. nscalestation

    nscalestation TrainBoard Supporter

    Had some time over the last few days to work on the layout. Here are some progress photos.

    On the Gloconda section worked on both pairs of bridge abutments and put in the cork road bed on both lines with some gaps left at the ends for blending with the neighboring sections. In the background can be seen one of the 6 foot sections of photo backdrop temporarily taped to the wall to get come of the curl out from being rolled up.


    Also temporarily taped up the first backdrop section behind the Wesso section where it will actually be.


    Could not resist placing a couple of locomotives on the track here to get a feel of how this is going to look. Yes, I am encouraged !
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2017
    Rocket Jones likes this.
  14. ppuinn

    ppuinn Staff Member

    Very nice, Brad! What is your source for the 24' photo-mural?
  15. nscalestation

    nscalestation TrainBoard Supporter

  16. ppuinn

    ppuinn Staff Member

    Tortoises and LEDs are installed at the Darst Street Control Point, so operators can select a specific route through the area. The tracks belong to 3 different railroads (PPU, BN, CNW) and, during an operating session, multiple trains pass through the area: 4 TPW trains, 7 P&PU trains (2 times, each), 5 BN trains, and 2 CNW trains. I'm considering putting up a small panel similar to the panels at the Big 4 Jct Control Point and the North Pekin Control Point in my post up above, but setting up the LEDs to light green when any of the 8 possible routes through this area are selected (while all the other ones are still showing red), would be fairly expensive if I continue to use the Digitrax DS 64 stationary decoders for tortoise and LED control ...unless someone can point me to a basic diode matrix tutorial that would let me use the DS 64s already in place (and which doesn't require understanding and/or building super-advanced electronics).

    This first pic shows where the tortoises and LEDs (dwarf signals) were installed.
    Second pic shows the dwarf signals from the opposite direction.
    I used electricians' liquid tape to cover half of each LED to "aim" the dwarf signal in the proper direction.

    A train buddy was over this AM, and we cleaned and fine-tuned track in and around the Pekin Helix and tested all 8 routes through Pekin and the Pekin Helix, in preparation for op session at the end of January.

    This afternoon, I'm cleaning and fine-tuning track in and around the Bartonville Helix. This pic shows Knox Jct at the base of the Bartonville Helix and the 3 LEDs (dwarf signals) that turn green when routes are selected and turnouts are properly aligned for the selected route through the helix. The 3 tracks combine into one track that goes up the helix to the upper deck, and the other two tracks that curve out of sight to the left in the distance stay on the lower level and go to the Highland and Galesburg subdivisions. Note the water-damaged backdrop pics printed and cut out from Google Street View. I'll be replacing those after the Helix track is cleaned and fine-tuned this afternoon.

    This next pic shows the 2 top-side mounted tortoises at the top of the Bartonville Helix where the single helix track splits back into 3 tracks (RI, PPU, CNW) as the trains come off the helix into the sceniced area of the upper deck. These tortoises are directly over the Knox Jct turnouts on the lower deck.
    And this shows the LEDs (dwarf signals) at the Moffat Control Point protecting the upper entrance to the Bartonville Helix. (The tortoises are just out of sight to the left of this pic.) This deck was also water-damaged a year ago and, although I repaired the upper deck backdrop and background trees last year, I'll be working on the trees at the front and middle of the upper deck (and the lower level backdrop pics), after I finish cleaning and fine-tuning the Helix tracks this afternoon.
    Yesterday I spent most of my train time trying to revise the track configuration in one section of my Keystone Steel Mill. The original track plan from about spring, 2004, had been based on a selective compression of some actual blueprints of the 1970s Keystone Steel Mill yard tracks in Bartonville. A few years ago, I learned some more about railcar movements within the plant in the 1970s and discovered my selective compression had eliminated some tracks that allowed moving alloys and other materials directly from the charging yard to the electric arc furnace...which then forced operators to make an extra run-around and switchback movement any time they had to move alloys and other materials into the EAF on my layout. My planned revision will permit a direct approach...and will give me some more space where I want to build some interior details for the open hearth furnace (white foamboard mock-up structure to the left in the pic) and the continuous caster and electric arc furnace (just out of the pic to the left and bottom of the pic, respectively). [This steel mill upgrade is in cooperation with several other area modelers' who are all modeling steel mills on our layouts and planning to submit a proposal to the Steel Mill Modelers SIG to host their annual convention in Central Illinois in a few years.]
  17. ppuinn

    ppuinn Staff Member

    Thanks for the Backdrop Junction link, Brad.
  18. Another ATSF Admirer

    Another ATSF Admirer TrainBoard Member

    Okay, I am confused; I thought I had posted an update on this thread? :(

    I have been working on the staging deck, looking at the mechanics of a Selector Track or a Sector Plate
    The metal bar on the left is the staging yard, 5-7 tracks 5'-7' long, with trains on them. The flex track on the right is the approach from the helix, ducking under a helix support as show.
    Sector Plate: the metal bar moves (with trains on!) and the approach track is fixed. An S-bend on the staging yard brings tracks from wide-enough-for-fingers down to almost touching at the edge, shortening the yard length a little.
    Selector Track: the metal bar is fixed and the approach track moves (with no trains on). Sliding joints on the helix end handle the changing rail lengths. But either the pivot is under that helix support, or the yard gets shorter by about a foot.

    So I switched tracks, sellotaped sheets of newsprint together, and started drawing the rest of the staging deck 1:1 scale to see if it fits.
    Pencil does not photograph at all, so I will need to redo this with Ink if I want anyone to be able to read it, sorry.

    The basic concept works, so from here plans next are to tweak it and twirl it and copy it to plywood. The best part is, I don't have to copy it as one continuous piece (ala cookie-cutter table-top), I can trace each section from the paper onto the plywood like a tetris puzzle with curves, and the stick the wood pieces together on the layout :)
  19. GP30

    GP30 TrainBoard Member

    Not much significant to report over the last week. I worked on scenery at the west end of Ravenswood, including the installation of a piling wall made from corrugated cardboard and testing ballast application and color.


    I applied some old Woodland Scenics Fine Dark Gray ballast I've had at least 10 years. This is left over from the previous two layouts. I haven't been able to pin point it, but for some reason I'm really not happy with this. I don't know if my tastes have changed in the last couple years, but I think the color of the ballast is too light for starters. I ordered a bag of Yard Mix, Northern Pacific Limestone and HO Samples from Arizona Rock & Mineral last night. Hopefully I can find a darker, ballast that has the oomph I'm looking for.

  20. Another ATSF Admirer

    Another ATSF Admirer TrainBoard Member

    The ballast is too clean! If it is near a yard, a smearing of black goop down the middle will help. If it's not a busy mainline, a few straggly weeds trying to colonise the cinders will help.
    Nice wall. I would not have guessed cardboard :)

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